Big and Small, Room for All, written by Jo Ellen Bogart, is a wonderfully illustrated new book that introduces young children to the concept of size and how they fit in the world. Using simple language and eye-catching watercolor paintings, this book successfully explains to children their place on earth. Each page illustrates in picture and words, the size difference of two objects. The text “Big Mountain, Small tree” is surrounded by a beautiful scene of mountains with trees much smaller in size. The next page states “Big tree, Small man” with a man looking up at the enormous trees. This constant connection to the next page grabs the attention of readers, eager to see what the next comparison will be.
The illustrations in this book are actual watercolor paintings by artist Gillian Newland and they really make this book. My 5 year old was intrigued by the huge detailed picture of a flea on the page “Big flea, big flea, What is smaller than a flea?” The painting of the solar system left her with the desire to learn the names of the planets depicted in the book.
Whereas this book’s language and reading level are that of a Kindergartener, I believe that older children will enjoy the book, too. One of the last pages of the book reads, “What is smaller than a flea? A world of things too small to see.” The picture of microorganisms will make older children excited to learn about all the things that we can’t see. This is a really fun and unique book that could open the door to numerous discussions.
I really like how children of various ages will be drawn to different aspects of Big and Small, Room for All. I think it is a great book to introduce the concept of size and sorting to Kindergarteners (VA SOL K.1d). The short phrases make this book a good one for beginning readers. Teachers could also use this book to differentiate between big and small for Kindergarten (VA SOL K.1e). Thanks to the beautiful watercolor paintings, this book also describes objects as big or small in both words and pictures (VA SOL K.1c).
- Scholastic offers many activities for teachers to use in their classroom. One worksheet on their website has students measure the penguins on the page and put them in order from shortest to tallest. This reiterates the concept of sequencing by size for kindergarteners.
- For a change of pace, edupace.com describes a game that challenges students to name objects that are either bigger or smaller than the aforementioned item. This activity will really force the students to think of objects relative to others, just as Big and Small, Room for All does.
- In another activity, a teacher could discuss some of the items that were mentioned in the book: sun, mountain, tree, man, kitten, mouse. The students could then cut out pictures of these items from handouts, color them, and then paste them on construction paper according to their size.
- This website has a great activity for students to show their knowledge of big, bigger, biggest.
Book: Big and Small, Room for All
Author: Jo Ellen Bogart
Illustrator: Gillian Newland
Publisher: Tundra Books; Har/Pstr edition
Publication Date: 2009
Grade Range: Pre-K to 2nd grade